President Barack Obama is expected to announce Friday a rebooting of intelligence surveillance policy that makes few substantive changes, adopts a reformist tone, and leaves open the possibility of further modifications by Congress down the line, the New York Times reported
The president reportedly decided that for now the government, not private carriers, should continue to store bulk data on telephone calls. The scope of people whose records can be examined will be scaled back to those two steps removed from an active terror suspect, instead of the current three "hops."
Obama may order that records be deleted earlier than the current five-year time frame, according to the Times.
Privacy safeguards for foreigners are to be bolstered and an independent public advocate to address privacy concerns on the intelligence court is being weighed.
Meanwhile, Judge John Bates, a former chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, who was designated by Chief Justice John Roberts to monitor the "operational impact" of any changes on the secret foreign intelligence court, said he opposed appointing a public advocate. It should be left to the intelligence court to decide when one was called for.
Bates also said that the intelligence court would be overwhelmed if it had to rule on every FBI administrative subpoena to obtain communications or financial transactions data. This is also the stance taken by FBI Director James Comey.
The judge also objected to taking away the power of the chief justice to appoint the 11 intelligence court judges and handing it to the appeals courts. All but one of the current judges are Republicans and critics have complained of the uniformity.
The anticipated Friday speech will be Obama's most substantive response to the privacy issues raised by NSA defector Edward Snowden, who is now in Russia, according to the Times.
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